The Business of Allergies

Recent research has indicated that the global market for food allergies and food intolerances will reach $26 billion by 2017 (“Global food allergy”, 2012).  The growth in the market is being caused by an increase in demand for allergen free products.  The increase in demand has been caused primarily by an increase in the number of people affected by dietary restrictions and their growing need for varied food choices.

Mo' Allergies, Mo' Products.

Mo’ Allergies, Mo’ Products.

The growth in the market has provided a valuable opportunity for many companies through the release of various products that have allergen free statements. It is no mystery why many companies are sporting the “peanut free” label or are sprawling “lactose free” across their milk cartons to attract the allergy conscious market. However there is a more interesting discussion to be had regarding the way in which companies are seizing opportunities from the increase in demand for allergy free products.

Besides the obvious business opportunities stated above, a more diverse array of companies are trying to profit from the surge in the number of people affected by food allergies.  Many restaurants have an allergy menu that charts which dishes are made using various allergens.  At the very least a majority of restaurants are including the above information on their web page.  As more companies begin accommodating allergies, it is putting pressure on other companies to do the same.  Effectively, it is my belief that providing allergy information to consumers is becoming an industry standard rather than a competitive edge.  Apps such as iCanEatOntheGo are allowing customers to refine searches to “only restaurants that are allergen safe” and websites such as Allerdine.com allows customers to rate restaurants on their allergy–friendliness.  The emergence of social media is causing restaurants to come under increasing pressure to become more aware of their customer’s food restrictions.

The Chicago Cubs are displaying one of the most unique forms of “allergen free” marketing.  The company has recently implemented its “peanut-safe zone”.  The idea involves a skybox equipped with medicine, non-allergen snacks and a nurse on hand. Wrigley Stadium charges $50 per skybox ticket and has 100’s of families on a waiting list to buy a ticket (Parekh, 2010).

In the United States the number of individuals suffering from food allergies or intolerances has grown by 18% over the past decade (Parekh, 2010).  With the emergence of social media and word of mouth marketing, it appears that accommodating this portion of the population is becoming somewhat of a necessity for companies whose primary business is food.  As the allergic and intolerant market grows, companies are innovating more creative ways to help them eat safely. I for one welcome the competition and continued innovation as it helps not just individual businesses, but rather entire industries become more allergy aware.

Global food allergy and intolerance products. (2012, 12 10). Retrieved from http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/4/prweb8310957.htm

Parekh, R. (2010). Market for food-allergy-friendly businesses more than peanuts. Advertising Age, 81(36), 32-32. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/759995012?accountid=13631

2012 Sabrina Shannon Memorial Award!

Have you raised allergy awareness in your school or wider community? Have you educated others about life-threatening allergies? Are you looking for ways to pay for next year’s tuition? If so, then we have some great news for you!

Anaphylaxis Canada is now accepting applications for the 2012 Sabrina Shannon Memorial Award!

Anaphylaxis Canada will be granting two awards of $1,000 each: one to a student who is entering the first year of post-secondary education (i.e. university or college), and one to a student who is already enrolled in a post-secondary program.

This award recognizes the important role that youth play in raising awareness and educating others about life-threatening allergies. It is dedicated to the life of Sabrina Shannon, an inspiring teenager who suffered a fatal anaphylactic reaction in 2003. Since her passing, Sabrina’s parents and other members of the allergy community have kept Sabrina’s spirit alive by advocating for safer schools and communities across Canada.

To apply, please submit the following by JUNE 22, 2012:

  • A completed application form (link below)
  • A 500-1500 word essay, describing your efforts to raise awareness and educate others about life-threatening allergies
  • Contact information for two references
  • A photocopy of your acceptance letter or proof of enrollment in a post-secondary institution

For more information – or to get started on your application! – download an application form at:

http://www.whyriskit.ca/media/News/Sabrina%20Shannon%20Memorial%20Award%20-%202012%20-%20fillable%20form.pdf

My Time as a Page

Hi, I’m Emily Rose. I’m 13 years old and allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.

Page UniformIn November and December of 2011, I served as a Page at Queen’s Park, The Legislative Assembly for Ontario.  My job was to be a mailman or delivery person for Members of Provincial Parliament.  I had to know all the MPP’s by name, where they sat, and what Riding they were from.  I studied for weeks to prepare! When I started on my first day, I was so scared.

Being a Page was scary enough, but my allergy gave me some extra anxiety. It was the first time that I was alone to deal with my allergies for myself.  My parents were 2 hours away, and I had sole responsibility to check my food.

My teacher there was very helpful.  She put up signs in every room of the Page Quarters and made sure that all of the Security Staff knew about my allergy. Plus, whenever special lunches were served, the Page Staff ensured that the meal was free of peanuts, before I even asked.

Even with all that help, things did not always go according to plan.  There are two lobbies, one on each side of the Chamber where I worked.  The MPP’s would meet there to discuss things.  One day, someone delivered peanut butter cookies, and I could not go into either of the lobbies for the whole day.  To make things more challenging, there was a point in the day when I was the only Page on duty in the Chamber.  When a MPP asked me to get something from the lobby, it was very embarrassing to have to explain that I am allergic to peanuts and could not go into either of the lobbies.  Everyone was very kind and understanding.  My fellow Pages were helpful in getting things that I needed, and it all turned out okay.

While I was working as a Page, I got to meet The Honourable Dave Levac, the MPP who introduced Ontario’s Sabrina’s Law. I remembered who he was from a documentary about Sabrina’s Law. I wanted to say something to him, but I was not allowed – because I was not allowed to be Partisan, which means  favouring one Party or MPP or another. So, I got my Mom to send him an e-mail, telling him that I was a Page and allergic to peanuts and very excited to be there.

By coincidence, I was one of two Page Captains that walked him into the Chamber on his inaugural entrance. The next day, I was cleaning up water glasses and was just about to leave when I heard someone calling my name.  At first, I was a little freaked out – but then I remembered the e-mail and knew who it was. Dave Levac was the one calling my name, so I went around the corner and talked to him.  He asked me about my allergies and if I carried my epinephrine auto-injector, which I always do.

I was so excited to meet Dave Levac, and I had such a great time at Queen’s Park.  I wish I could have stayed there longer.  To any new or prospective Pages, I wish you good luck and know that you will have the best time of your life!

Newspaper Article

The Independent Free Press, January 19, 2012: http://www.theifp.ca/community/serendipitious-meeting